Republican Dissidents Shouldn’t Mourn They Should Organize.

Dennis Sanders

Dennis is the pastor of a small Protestant congregation outside St. Paul, MN and also a part-time communications consultant. A native of Michigan, you can check out his writings over on Medium and subscribe to his Substack newsletter on religion and politics called Polite Company.  Dennis lives in Minneapolis with his husband Daniel.

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60 Responses

  1. InMD says:

    I think NeverTrumpers are ineffective not only due their lack of numbers but because of the geographic and urban/rural divisions of our electoral system and culture. My unscientific bet is that even if there are places that they could make up a significant chunk of the local Republican party it’s a local Republican party in a blue jurisdiction where they have no influence or chance of winning office anyway.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to InMD says:

      NeverTrump Republicans, at the national level anyway, seem to be largely pro-Iraq War neocons who’ve been booted from the Grand Ole Party. Their rise to power was based on using political leverage to elevate a fringe ideology into (disastrous) predominance within the Party. Now they’re on the outside looking in. They’re a bitter group, who’ve failed on two levels: under Trump they’ve lost their power, and the reason they lost power to Trumpism is because everyone witnessed their intellectual corruption and political and moral malpractice when they *had* power. One of the most disappointing aspects of the rise of Trumpism is that the folks who brought us Trump (ie., NeverTrumpers) are now regarded by media and even democrats and liberals as *leading lights* in the anti-Trump movement. No one should be listening to a damn word they say other than a sincere expression of regret and apology for the role they played in getting us here. None of them have.Report

      • InMD in reply to Stillwater says:

        I do get the impression that the primary national NeverTrump movement is neocons, who in a sane world would be so thoroughly discredited as to have totally lost any type of platform. As you note the MSM seems intent on keeping them around, probably as a result of View From Nowhere-ism as much as anything else.

        But I do think there are others, not unlike the leadership of the GOP in my home state that was able to get Larry Hogan elected twice. They did this by telling the Real Americans in the hinterlands to shut up and take what they can get in a state where they’re hopelessly outnumbered and forging an alliance with centrist middle class Democrats. I dont think there are many places though where that dynamic can work, and it has been enabled by bafflingly stupid primary nominations on the D side. The last was unbelievably gaffe prone (allegedly due to a speech impediment) and promised to crush the core of his constituency with taxes to fund ‘social justice.’ That caused enough to switch sides (including yours truly) but it isn’t normal and I don’t think there’s a national movement there.Report

        • Jaybird in reply to InMD says:

          I think I agree with this but part of it is a perfect storm.

          During the beginning and middle (?) of the Iraq War, these guys were on the television ALL THE TIME. They were experts to provide insight and conservatives to provide “balance”.

          And now it’s 10-15 years later. They are now the guys who are established as experts and as conservatives. Everybody involved benefits from them appearing on the show.Report

          • InMD in reply to Jaybird says:

            I agree. But that’s because we don’t live in the hypothetical sane world where being proven wrong over and over again on some of the biggest platforms in human history might eventually result in removal from said platforms.Report

      • Marchmaine in reply to Stillwater says:

        Well put… exactly right about the Neo-Con origins of Never Trump; that’s why Never Trump isn’t a rallying point for Non-Trump or Reluctant Trump.

        Truth be told, the Non-Trump vectors don’t all align into one bucket, so there isn’t really a single opposition party that would oppose him (on the right). And that’s bracketing the fact that the American electoral rules makes alternate party viability nearly impossible.

        Having broken Humpty, there’s really no way to put him back together.Report

        • George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

          Part of the problem is that the Never Trumper complaints all seem to be irate notes that could be summed up as:

          To who it may concern,

          Outraged, I say! We are beside ourselves, simply aghast at the President’s boorish behavior . He must straighten up at once!


          Thurston Howell III and Lovey.”

          PS. We have moved to a hut on the other side of the island until the situation in rectified to our satisfaction.

          PPS. Please have Mary Ann send over her wonderful coconut cream pies.


          • Marchmaine in reply to George Turner says:

            No, not really.Report

            • George Turner in reply to Marchmaine says:

              Well, they constantly talk about how they’re going to organize the headhunters, two Russian cosmonauts, a Japanese soldier, a mad scientist, and a giant spider into a revolutionary force and set things right, but we all know how that will work out. Those boobs couldn’t manage to build a raft that would float halfway across the lagoon.Report

  2. Chip Daniels says:

    When the GOP base went all in on white nationalism, they didn’t just kick out the remaining pockets of mulitculturalists. They also abandoned the free marketers.

    Trump may give lip service to markets, but really for him and his followers markets are like the rule of law or religious piety, just a tool which can be used or laid aside depending on the needs of the moment.

    It’s difficult for me to imagine a constituency for some Never-Trump Republican party. In hindsight, the Romney/Bush/McCain sort of candidates were always, even in their heydey, not truly representative of the party base.

    The Grand Re-alignment of the American political landscape is happening because of this. The idea that “Government is not the solution to problems, it is the problem” doesn’t really have any potency with any statistically significant base any more.Report

  3. Jaybird says:

    Good post, but I’m wondering what the *GOAL* would be.

    Republican Never-Trumpers need to get together and organize and go to the President to make him do…


    If we could get all of the Never Trumpers together and give a three-point list of the three things they wish the President would do, what would be on that list?

    Off the top of my head, I’d say that the list would look something like this:

    1. Stop tweeting, oh my God, please stop tweeting.
    2. Seriously, stop tweeting.
    3. The judges thing is pretty good. Let’s keep doing that.

    I mean, in the example you provided in the Warshington Post, the example Powell gave was Trump drawing on a map that showed that the hurricane was going toward Alabama. He did that, presumably, because he tweeted that the people in Florida and Alabama need to watch out for the hurricane. When challenged and told “ONLY PEOPLE IN FLORIDA NEED TO WATCH OUT”, he drew on the map. And this could have been avoided if he hadn’t tweeted! SO STOP TWEETING!

    But what’s the main three things that the NeverTrump folks would want to do if we had them submit a list?Report

  4. Philip H says:

    Its an intriguing point, but most of those Never Trumpers fail for two additional reasons. First, they are not proposing an alternative. All the organizing in the world – and I agree that movement conservatives lack the collective organizing gene – won’t do any good if there’s no one to support as an alternative. No one is running at Trump from either flank of the Republican Party, and none of the groups is yet trying to oust the Senators for their apostasy.

    Which leads me to my second point – Never Trumpers are probably “moderate Republicans.” There are no moderates still in office and the only way to get them is to remove the current office holders. Given that No moderate Republicans are challenging the existing office holders, the Never Trumpers need to start supporting the Democrats that are running. Yeah, I know, a lot of Never Trumpers would sooner eat dog barf, but if they won’t work to get the bums out from the right, they need to come at it form the left. And frnakly, in most states, the democratic candidates running are closer to what Republicans used to be then Republicans themselves.Report

    • Stillwater in reply to Philip H says:

      Good comment, though from *my* perspective I don’t get all that angsty cringing from conservative voters who don’t like Trump. It’s pretty fucking simple: don’t vote for Trump. If there isn’t a viable candidate who’s earned their vote, then don’t vote at all.

      One problem with a lot of NeverTrumpers is the word “never”. It’s incorrect. They’ll vote for Trump in a heartbeat if Bernie is nominated. 🙂

      NeverTrumpers for Trump!Report

    • North in reply to Philip H says:

      Yes, exactly this. If they want the GOP to change it has to lose; ideally lose badly and repeatedly. They would need to embrace Duverger’s Law and accept that they’d be consigning the GOP to an utter thrashing for a couple of cycles. That’d be the only way they might shake the Trump influence out. But it’s no sure thing because Trump has the right wing media apparatus and the right wing voters whereas the never Trumpers only have money (and the right wing money people only really care about tax cuts which Trump is delivering on so they’re not exactly passionately anti-Trump).Report

      • Stillwater in reply to North says:

        Remember all those discussions here at the OT where moderate conservatives winged and whined about how they really wanted to vote against their party but the radical SJW wing of the Dem party left them no choice but to vote for Trump?

        That’s what it means to be a NeverTrump conservative in practice.Report

        • North in reply to Stillwater says:

          I do remember; I miss them.
          It has given me no small amount of solace to note that the SJW contingent has seemed pretty much powerless during this nomination process so far. All their preferred candidates have dropped out or cratered. Further evidence that the online operating assumption that the Democratic Party and liberals in general have careened wildly to the left is bunk.Report

          • Ozzzy! in reply to North says:

            They knocked Harris out right quick and seem to being doing a number on Bloomie and Biden in the last few days, so there is that?Report

            • North in reply to Ozzzy! says:

              The SJW’s knocked her out? She was a favored candidate for some contingents as a black woman though, of course, as a prosecutor she was persona non-grata for other contingents. But since Amy, also a prosecutor, has not been knocked out it doesn’t seem likely Harris went down for that reason.Report

              • Ozzzy! in reply to North says:

                Prosecutor! Prosecutor! Prosecutor! was all I saw or heard after the first or second debate, following her bump after pushing Biden a little on busing.

                I guess this might not be the SJW faction you are referring to, but even if I try, I really don’t have another tidily labeled group to say was her downfall. A separate, amorphous faction?

                If you have a different reason she plummeted out, I’d like to hear it.


              • Jesse in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                She was a bad candidate who failed to gain any momentum from her one good day, because she immediately back off on her attack on Biden.

                The Prosecutor stuff was big among people on Twitter, but 60% of African Americans want more police in their community.

                People like cops! Even Democrats! I think that’s actually not a great thing, but it’s a good thing if you’re Kamala Harris.

                Kamala’s problem was she went all-in on a bunch of left-wing policies, then couldn’t pivot when it was obvious it was the more moderate lane that was open.

                A Harris campaign that focused on the fact she threw crooks like Trump in jail, approved of Pete/Klob-like expansions to the welfare state, etc. would be in good shape to gobble up older moderate black voters right now.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                She had too many things going on at once.

                She interpreted Bernie’s success, such as it was, in 2016 as success of the whole “lefty” thing. So she tried to go for the “woke” vote and then was caught flat-footed when she neither caught on with the moderates nor with the sjw crowd.

                I thought, and still think, that “Kamala is a cop” is one hell of a campaign slogan for someone running on the moderate ticket and she could write ads like “Kamala Harris is a former prosecutor and she knows a guilty man is in the White House and when you’re dealing will criminals, you call the police. Well, KAMALA IS A COP.”

                Or something like that. It’d have to go through the poets first to make it more musical to the ear.

                But, in neither being hot nor cold, she appealed to nobody.

                TL;DR: Revelations 3:16Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Jaybird says:

                So she tried to go for the “woke” vote and then was caught flat-footed when she neither caught on with the moderates nor with the sjw crowd.

                Nor with black voters. One of the more perplexing aspects of the primary was when Woke Dem Black twitter criticized The Party for not having black candidates on the debate stage *despite* their own lack of support for black candidates. When I read those comments and articles I furrowed my brow, gritted my teeth, and resolved to fight for no I didn’t. I viewed it as more evidence that the Dem party is lost in the wilderness.

                Harris didn’t get bounced from the primary. She just made a *series* of serious mistakes that prevented her from ever getting going.Report

              • Jaybird in reply to Stillwater says:

                From what I recall, Woke Dem Black twitter made accusations that while Kamala might have been “Of Color”, she was not, in any meaningful sense, “Black”.

                Which is one of those things that I don’t know whether I’m allowed to notice.Report

              • George Turner in reply to Jaybird says:

                Kamala’s fundamental problem was that she was an unlikable monster and wasn’t very successful in hiding it. She’s not a very good prosecutor because she just hurls endless accusations without even giving the defendant time to reply. That’s not how you build a case.

                There’s a big difference between prosecution and persecution, and she finally gained a position prominent enough that the public got to see her in action. Many still cheered her on as long as she was going after Republicans, but the minute her technique was aimed at fellow Democrats, people balked. Once they didn’t like what she was doing, they found plenty of reasons not to like her, and plenty of reasons not to support her.Report

              • North in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                Well sure, but this kind of makes my core point for me. The SJW left exists, I would never dream of claiming it doesn’t but it doesn’t really carry much clout in the real world. It’s kind of incoherent and turns in on itself at the drop of a hat. The rules that it has overlap, contradict and shift like positions on twitter or the principles of young adults which isn’t surprising since young adults in college, twitter users and the idiot/cynical academic professors and administrators who cater to them are where the SJW movement, such as it is, draws its life.
                But the SJW left doesn’t really have a lot of clout in the real world. It doesn’t command many votes; just a lot of tweets. It can fish up your life if you are connected into the internet or can make a business or company’s phones ring off the hook for a couple of weeks until the next shiny object shows up for them to get furious about but the SJW left isn’t really some nation or globe commanding ideology. At its best it’s a bunch of isolated communities of minorities and their well-meaning allies saying “hey, these rules that make our little online communities nice for us, wouldn’t it be nice for us if they applied to the whole world?” at its worst it’s a bunch of virtue signaling idiots misinterpreting social science terms so they can own and drag peers on their social networks or self-important academics desperately trying to turn their doctorate into a precious and increasingly scarce tenured university position or a (lamentably) increasingly common university admin sinecure by using in vogue language to try and create some kind of secular religion with them as the priest caste.

                But SJW as some political Goliath that’s eating people alive and menacing the world as we know it? That’s just the right wing grifters desperately trying to magnify a shrew into a dragon to scare old people into voting Republican and convince them to buy NRO cruises, sleep number beds, gold and copies of The Benedict Option.Report

              • Ozzzy! in reply to North says:

                All this makes sense. But how does that align with what happened, which is a presidential candidate stopped be viable because of this amorphous group? (Assumes that the standard center left people didn’t gob on per our earlier comments)

                Isn’t that pretty much the definition of powerful? If it was idk, Christian scientists advocated against a candidate and that candidate stopped being viable, I think we’d all say wow! That group has clout!

                Are you saying it’s just that they were the loudest voice but weren’t the cause? Which sure ok that could be, but it’s undemonstratable.Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                How about this: the SJW left had *just enough power* to claim credit for the last kick in an already dead campaign?

                I don’t know if you’re a dem or not Ozzzy, but from *inside* the party, there was a ton of pre-primary excitement re: Kamala’s campaign. A lot of people had her as their first or second choice. And I’m here to tell ya, none of those people gave a rats ass about how the SJW felt about her. They didn’t support her after she declared, after the race actually started, because she was, well, a particularly awful campaigner.

                OTOH, if you’re trying to find facts to fit the theory that the SJW left is all-powerful in the Democratic party, just dismiss what I said as inconvenient. 🙂Report

              • Stillwater in reply to Stillwater says:

                And adding to this, I don’t think the claim that Kamala was/has been the biggest disappointment in the campaign would be regarded as too controversial. A lot of people – me included – thought she’d be a great candidate on policy (moderate with a nod towards progressivism) and good on politics (express decisive, clear views on policy and culture). Sadly, she did poorly on both counts.Report

              • Ozzzy! in reply to Stillwater says:

                Thanks, this is helpful to ponder.Report

              • North in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                What Stillwater said. What it boiled down to wasn’t that the SJW left destroyed her campaign, or even did a ton of damage to it. Harris just ran a shitty campaign, made terrible choices, listened too much to twitter and ran out of money. Unless you’re personally wealthy running out of money means your campaign is over.Report

            • Jesse in reply to Ozzzy! says:

              If thinking stop ‘n’ frisk is bad, thinking blaming the 2008 crisis on a lack of redlining is pretty racist, and criticizing somebody for making incredibly sexist remarks that are nearly as bad as Trump makes you a SJW, then there are plenty of SJW’s in the world.Report

              • Ozzzy! in reply to Jesse says:

                Please note it wasn’t my proposed label. Yes there are alot of SJW’s in the world! I think that is mostly a good thing. And I hear you that she had serious issues within the democratic party’s base.

                But every item you just said would line squarely up with the SJW ‘brand’ saying Nope.

                Unless its just plain sexism/racism…Report

              • Jesse in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                I mean, then at that point, ‘SJW’ just means ‘standard issue center-left’ liberal. Also, the policies I was referring to were Bloomberg, not Harris.

                The Left was attacking Kamala on things that anybody outside of the deepest left-wing portions of America didn’t care about at all in 2010 when Harris was running an incredibly close race for AG against a Republican DA from Los Angeles.Report

              • Ozzzy! in reply to Jesse says:

                I agree with this! Most people in the domoceatoc tent don’t care about this stuff.

                But You seem to be talking in circles a little – if the far left wing (SJW label for this convo) was attacking her then they aren’t every standard issue center left person. But if those are the people that ‘took’ down Harris (because the standard issue center left person didn’t care), then the original point by north that they have no power is wrong.

                I’m not sure how to neatly (or messily) tie those two things together.Report

              • InMD in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                It’s a phenomenon that the right overstates but I (respectfully) think North and some others understate. PoMo intersectionality or crudely ‘SJWism’ is never going to win an election. It’s ideas are too unpopular, the people who are really into it too off putting, and the ideas too obviously ugly, stupid, and essentialist (read racist and sexist) to catch wind outside of sophist hot houses.

                What it can do however is use its apostles to engage in capture and gatekeeping of institutions most people don’t think about and which are subject to weak democratic oversight like public universities or little regarded regulatory bodies like DOE OCR. They’re also over represented in the upper middle class professional world meaning they can do their share of gatekeeping and narrative molding outside of the expressly conservative media, which I do think is influential, but not determinative in D politics.

                We’d be better off without it and I do think the fad will pass but until it does it should be checked wherever possible, especially on the broader left.Report

              • North in reply to InMD says:

                I would never claim sjw-ism is powerless or harmless, merely that it is not dominant in the body politic of the left or of liberalism the way the right wing and the right wing media claims it is.Report

              • Jesse in reply to Ozzzy! says:

                Harris didn’t fade out because of her positions.

                Harris faded out because she ran her campaign badly, was maneuvered out of various lanes by other candidates, and frankly, didn’t hold out ’til Iowa and Biden’s collapse.Report

    • George Turner in reply to Chip Daniels says:

      To me it sounds like a lot of mush-headed thinking that will accomplish nothing and be extremely expensive.

      McCarthy unveiled the first of several planned climate initiatives on Wednesday with a package focused on carbon sequestration. It called for the expansion and permanent extension of a tax credit for oil companies and others that capture carbon dioxide and bury it in the ground; money for the development of carbon capture for natural-gas power plants; and support for a plan to plant 1 trillion trees around the world.

      Carbon sequestration projects in Europe have been fraught with technical and financial problems, and it can only work where the geology is highly favorable, which isn’t necessarily where the power plants are located. Most such projects, in hindsight, could be fairly described as boondoggles. Sure, we could blow a ton of money trying to make coal or natural gas plants store their CO2 underground, but that will only work for a short while because there’s not a lot of free space for exhaust gases under a power plant.

      Secondly, why would we pay oil companies to sequester CO2? Other than flaring off natural gas because they’re not connected to a natural gas grid (a problem which is rapidly solving itself), oil companies don’t emit CO2, they emit oil – that we burn in our cars, which then emit CO2. What are Exxon and BP supposed to do, follow me around town with a baggie on my tailpipe so they can get their CO2 back?

      To pay for the sequestration, either we all have to pay a whole lot more for the same energy via prices, or we have to pay a whole lot more for energy via taxes. And then we’ll get to pay again, years later, when some report says the CO2 is leaking out of the landfill and we have to spend further billions on an insane project to try and cap the ground, kind of like Fukishima but for carbon dioxide. It would make more sense to just build a 100% carbon-free nuclear power plant.

      Third, why do we need to plant a trillion trees, when trees make these things called “seeds” and replant themselves? In many places, you just quit mowing and the trees show up on their own whether you want them or not.

      Replacing crazy ideas with stupid ideas is not really a plus in my book.Report

      • At least some of the Republicans probably feel they have to propose something about climate change to appease the Southwest. The fires are more noticeable and the feds are running out of ways to juggle Colorado River water to avoid declaring an emergency in the Lower Basin. In 2018 they lost a House seat in each of CO, NM, UT, AZ, and NV. Several in Southern California. Plus a Senate seat in each of NV and AZ. They will almost certainly lose another Senate seat in 2020 (CO) with a chance of losing a second (AZ).Report

  5. Damon says:

    I’m still waiting for all the democrats who gave Clinton a pass to stand up to him and tell him he needed to resign or he’d be convicted—cause he was guilty as hell and everyone knew it.. Oh wait..that never happened. So….Report